The House and Senate joined forces today to overwhelmingly approve the ADA restoration act, a key piece of civil rights legislation that will reverse several catastrophic Supreme Court rulings. For almost two decades the Court whittled away the protections Congress enshrined in the Americans with Disabilities Act: In 1999, the Court ruled that people with disabilities could either work or treat their condition, but not both; in 2002, the Court drastically limited the number of people protected by the ADA. Congress last week reasserted itself by reversing those rulings, sending a clear message to the Court, businesses, and the country: You cannot discriminate against people with disabilities.
"The erosions of rights created by these court cases have created a bizarre Catch 22 where people with serious conditions like epilepsy or diabetes could be forced to choose between treating their conditions and forfeiting their protections under the ADA, or not treating their conditions and being protected," Harkin said.The House approved its version of the bill in June by a vote of 402-17, with the Senate following last week on a voice vote. The two chambers reconciled their differences today, sending the bill on to the President. He is expected to sign the vital measure into law.
"That is not what Congress intended when we passed the law and this bill is the right fix," Harkin said.
In an unusual show of election-year cooperation, disability advocates and the business lobby compromised to draft the new legislation.